Can Sexual Activity Prevent Prostate Cancer? Wishful Thinking or Reality?

November 2, 2008

For those who are following this site, let me begin this article by saying…I wish I could give a perfect answer to the question above.  Frankly, as a guy, I would love to believe the answer is yes.  Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but the question was raised yesterday by a reader who was commenting on diet.

She (yes SHE) pointed out: “There have also been two studies (2003 and 2004) which demonstrate a correlation between a high number of ejaculations per week with a lower risk of prostate cancer. Summaries of those studies can be found here: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/resources/research-papers/sexual-expression-6358.htm Just scroll down a bit.”

I will save you the time as I have copied the relevant parts and they are printed below:

Prostate Cancer

  • A 2004 prospective study of follow-up survey data conducted between 1992 and 2000 found that a history of high ejaculation frequency — = 21 ejaculations per month — was related to a decreased risk of total and organ-confined prostate cancer.  Each incremental increase of three ejaculations per week throughout a lifetime was associated with a 15-percent decrease in the risk of prostate cancer.  Study authors speculate that this relationship could be a result of ejaculations flushing potential carcinogenic substances from the prostate, or that the stress relief associated with ejaculation reduces central sympathetic nervous system activity that can cause cellular division (Leitzmann et al., 2004).
  • A 2003 case-control study of Australian men younger than 70 years of age found no association between the number of sex partners or ejaculations, and an increased risk of prostate cancer.  In fact, men who recalled a high frequency of ejaculation — four or more emissions per week — in their 20s, 30s, and 40s were one-third less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who reported fewer than three emissions per week over the same period of time (Giles et al, 2003).

As part of the research for the book that is in process (Prostate Cancer related of course), I have interviewed many men and one of the questions is sexual frequency before cancer diagnosis and sexual activity following treatment.  Now for the men and women who read…please understand, it is my intent to help men and their families through this process, hence, my focus will be direct and perhaps deserves some reflection time before drawing any conclusions.

First, I have found no correlation between frequencey of sexual activity and cancer, but to be sure, I am not testing that theory so my comments are unreliable.  What I have found is that men are unwilling in the presence of their wives (or partners) to talk openly and honestly about their sexual activity.  With rare exception, men will over estimate the frequency of sexual activity when asked how often with their partner.  I suppose it is a “man thing” to want to tell others it happens more than is real.  The telling question that men will not discuss (generally) in front of their partner – is the frequency of masturbation.

So far, close to 9 times out of 10, a man – interviewed alone – will reveal that he masturbates (yes even as adults) as often if not more often than he has sexual intercourse or activity with his partner.  O.K. – interesting – so what’s the point?

Point # 1 – Assuming that one survives prostate cancer and can call themselves a prostate cancer survivor – it is critical to honestly face ones sexual activity before cancer in order to assess a realistic healing time frame and expectation following treatment.  I was told to masturbate often by my doctor.  Why masturbate?  Well, candidly the doctor told me that my wife would not likely want to make love as often as I needed to exercise my penis and re-educate the nerves that had been disturbed thru surgery.

If a man was relatively inactive before surgery, then he certainly could expect equal or greater sexual function following treatment.  Now I am no physician, but hundreds of men’s stories can’t be that off.  Sexual exercise, for lack of a better way to put it, is paramount to regaining sexual ability following treatment for prostate cancer.

Let me state clearly, that if the nerves are not spared, there will be no renewed sexual function.

Point # 2 – If the studies by Planned Parenthood are accurate, then there is no (other than from other health concerns) reason not to have an active and healthy sex life.  Without offending women readers, ladies, if the frequency that a man desires sex is incompatible with your desire, then by all means encourage him to find release through masturbation.  Better to put past the issues that some raise regarding religion, social morays and the like and focus rather on health.

As always…your comments are welcome and Amy…thanks for the great link to the Planned Parenthood article and study.

Other Links that may be of interest:

http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/291/13/1578

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3942-masturbating-may-protect-against-prostate-cancer.html

http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2008/07/03/lots-of-sex-may-prevent-erectile-dysfunction.html

http://www.nativeremedies.com/articles/prostate-health-sexual-frequency.html


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